Leadership versus management.
Is one more important than the other when it comes to successfully managing projects?
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
- Peter Drucker
There are some key differences between what leaders do and what managers do. The table below lists some of these distinctions.
|Cope with Change||Cope with Complexity|
|Focus on the Future||Focus on the Present|
|Drives Change||Drives Stability|
|Empowers People||Directs People|
As you can see, there is a clear difference between leadership and management.
In the Harvard Business Review article "What Leaders Really Do" by John Kotter, he effectively summarizes this difference by stating that management is about coping with complexity while leadership is about coping with change.
Good management enables you to handle complexity. This is done by...
These are all basic project management skills. In fact, one of the main purposes of project management is to reduce the risk of complexity to allow for a greater chance of a successful outcome.
Leadership enables you to handle change effectively. This is done by...
Leadership is more important in projects that have higher levels of uncertainty or ambiguity. For example, projects that are in fast-changing markets, on the bleeding edge of technology, or that have powerful and challenging stakeholders will require strong leadership capabilities in the project manager.
So, back to the original question, leadership versus management, which is more important when it comes to managing projects successfully?
The truth is, this really isn't a leader vs manager decision. You need to have capabilities in both areas to be an effective project manager...